Developing: As many as 10 staff and 30 customers were taken hostage by at least one jihadist gunman at an Australian Chocolate Shop at around 9:45 am Monday morning. The militants forced shop employees to put up a black Islamic flag with white lettering in the window of the Lindt Store at Martin Place in Sydney. The building was placed in lockdown.
The flag’s message has been identified by experts as the “Shahada” – a statement that reportedly means “there is no deity of worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” The statement has been used by groups such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, but it not specifically an Islamic state flag. At this time it is unknown if this is a lone wolf attack nor something else.
Hundreds of Australian police have cordoned off the area. PM Tony Abbott has called the situation “deeply concerning,” and that the motive for the attack was unknown.The police have warned citizens to stay away from the area.
One journalist source stated that he was informed that some of the hostages had been “fitted with backpacks.” This information could not be confirmed by the BBC. The “public hostage taking” has created a huge issue for police trying to
New South Wales Police asked people to be vigilant and patient as they go about their business in Sydney. They stated that they have the incident contained, and would work as long as they need to to “bring the incident” to a positive outcome.They are not declaring it as a terrorist attack at this time, though it “certainly are a number of the items that identify it as a terror attack.”
“This is the only incident in the city at this time.” NSW Police commissioner.
We will keep tabs on this situation for you.
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